The American legend has returned. After nearly 40 years Chevrolet has resurrected the Corvette Stingray causing ‘vette aficionados and sports car fans the world over to all but wet themselves. The latest Stingray promises to be faster, lighter, more agile, better equipped and more fuel efficient than any ‘vette that came before it. We took a closer look to see whether it has all it takes to compete with its esteemed rivals from Europe and Japan ahead of its late-2013 release.
Aesthetically, this 7th generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray marks a huge departure from the Stingray models that precede it. It’s bodywork is a busy tapestry of slashes, creases and cuts that fans of previous Stingrays may find a little difficult to accept. Stingrays of the past were curvy and muscular, but this thing is ripped and sinewy, as if it were inspired by the Transformers. That’s no bad thing if you’re into 60-foot tall robots, but part of us wishes Chevrolet had looked to the past rather than the future when resurrecting this icon.
That said, the abundance of fine detailing means it will keep your attention, and there are plenty of talking points. The doors are a definite improvement – they’re far more interesting than the nondescript slabs on the C6 – and we love the centrally-mounted quad exhaust pipes and the Stingray logos dotted around the car. But did Chevrolet really have to ditch the circular rear lights that have been such a mainstay on Corvettes for years?
There’s no two ways about it – Corvette interiors have been awful for decades. Borrowing the steering wheel and switchgear from models lower down in the GM food chain have helped the company keep the Corvette relatively affordable, but the practise also makes the cars look and feel cheap. Thankfully, Chevrolet has blessed the 2014 Corvette Stingray with a very modern, stylish interior.
Chevy describes the interior as a “fighter jet inspired wrap around cockpit,” and it’s not far off. The cabin is partitioned in such a way that the driver will feel as if he or she is sat at their own high tech mission control station. The dashboard features real carbon fibre, the updated seats are finished in high grade Napa leather, and soft touch plastics help give the car a more premium look and feel.
At the heart of the new Corvette Stingray is a new 6.2-litre V8 known internally as the LT1. This produces 450hp and can take the car from a standstill to 60mph in “less than 4 seconds”. It compares favourably to the 6.2-litre LS3 engine in the previous generation Corvette C6, which produced 430hp and could hit 60mph in 4.2 seconds, but it’s the torque figure that really paints a picture of the new Stingray’s ferocity.
Chevrolet says the new unit produces 610Nm of torque – 35Nm more than produced by the LS3 engine. Indeed, between 1,000rpm and 4,000rpm it produces the same amount of grunt as the 7-litre LS7 engine in the current Corvette Z06. The extra capacity is achieved due to the adoption of technologies such as direct injection, active fuel management, continuously variable valve timing and a new exhaust that is, according to Chevrolet, ‘less restrictive’ than the previous generation’s.
The car’s power is channelled through a 7-speed manual transmission that blips the throttle on downshifts as well as upshifts – a first as far as we’re aware. In other words, when changing gear, the transmission will increase the engine revs to match the road speed before you release the clutch, helping the car change gear more smoothly and prepare it for optimum torque when exiting a corner. An optional six-speed automatic transmission is also available.
Drivers who wish to take their Stingray onto the track will be pleased to hear Chevrolet will sell an optional Z51 Performance Package, which offers an eletronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, better brake, differential and transmission cooling and an aero package that reduces lift at high speed.
Weight is a key factor in the 2014 Corvette Stingray’s improved performance. Chevrolet has yet to confirm the car’s exact weight, but it has claimed the new ‘vette has a better power to weight ratio than the Porsche 911 Carrera and Audi R8. This is partly due to the fact the car rides on a new aluminium frame, an innovation that reduces weight by 99kg. The front and rear subframes, which were made of magnesium on the previous car, are now built from hollow-cast aluminium, which makes for weight savings of 25 per cent and 20 per cent at the front and rear respectively.
Chevrolet has also, for the first time, used carbon fibre in the construction of the new Corvette Stingray — on the bonnet and roof — in an attempt to keep the car’s centre of gravity as low as possible. In all, the tweaks are said to allow the car to generate 1g during cornering, so it should be on a par with the mighty Nissan GT-R in this respect.
Anyone who’s ever driven a Corvette on roads where there are tight bends, speed bumps, imperfections in the tarmac and driveways to get in and out of will tell you the car can be a total nightmare. The C6 model has the turning circle of a barge, but according to Chevrolet, the latest Corvette Stingray’s turning circle is a massive two feet tighter, meaning three point turns may now be a possibility.
You may even enjoy taking it out more often, as it should be considerably cheaper to run. The 6.2-litre engine has additional features such as direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, which allows the engine to run on four cylinders when being driven gently. We’re not expecting the Stingray to challenge a Chevrolet Volt for fuel efficiency any time soon, but it should offer better economy than the current car.
We’re not fully convinced by the 2014 Corvette Stingray’s looks, but we’re hoping it grows on us. What we are convinced of is the almost certain fact it’ll go like the clappers. The improved power to weight ratio provided by the meaty V8 engine and lightweight aluminium chassis will likely make this a serious alternative to European supercar royalty.
Engine: 6.2 litre V8
Acceleration: 0-60 in < 4 seconds
Top speed: TBC